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The BenefitsLink Newsletter -
Welfare Plans Edition
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July 24, 2002 - 6,490 subscribers
Today's sponsor: EBIA's COBRA: The Developing Law

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(Help BenefitsLink to provide this newsletter at no charge to you -- our sponsors pay our way. Remember to visit them periodically; we try to make sure their products and services will be of interest to you. Thanks! --Editor)

Two Medicare Drug Bills Fail in Senate
Excerpt: "As expected, the Senate on July 23 rejected competing Democratic- and Republican-backed proposals to add a prescription drug benefit to Medicare, leading to 'more doubt' that any such legislation will be enacted this session, the Wall Street Journal reports." (KaiserNetwork.org)

House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee Discusses Mental Health Parity, Patients' Rights
Excerpt: "The House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee on July 23 heard testimony on a bill (HR 4066) that would require employers to provide the same level of coverage for mental health as for physical health care, CongressDaily reports ..." (KaiserNetwork.org)

Witness List, Statements and Webcast: Insurance Coverage of Mental Health Benefits
July 23, 2002. Witnesses included Charles M. Cutle M.D., American Association of Health Plans; Darrel Regier M.D., M.P.H., American Psychiatric Association; Neil E. Trautwein, National Association of Manufacturers; James T. Hackett, Ocean Energy, Inc.; and Kay Nystul, Wausau Benefits, Inc. (U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Health)

Applying the Defined Contribution to Medicare: a Primer (PDF)
July 2002 Issue Brief. Excerpt: "Should [Medicare] retain its current defined benefit approach (similar to that used by traditional retirement plans) or should it be changed to a defined contribution approach (similar to that used by 401(k) retirement plans)? This issue brief provides a primer on these two approaches and what they mean in the context of the debate on Medicare reform." (American Academy of Actuaries)

Generic Drugs Offer Relief From Pain of Rising Drug Costs
Excerpt: "So, if choosing generic drugs is such a no-brainer, then why hasn't the choice automatically been adopted by all consumers? Several barriers continue to frustrate efforts promoting generic substitution. Despite solid evidence of generics' therapeutic equivalence, skepticism persists." (Medscape Money & Medicine; free registration required)

Group of Physicians Question AHRQ's Guidelines on Reducing Medical Errors
Excerpt: "A government-commissioned report on reducing medical errors often misses 'obvious' and 'simple' practices to ensure patient safety, according to a critique by three safety experts appearing in the July 24 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association." (KaiserNetwork.org)

Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General
(These items appear in both editions of the BenefitsLink Newsletter)

Opinion: Reform Is the Only Option (For Stock Options, That Is)
Excerpt: "Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen, the Big Six accounting firms, and investor groups applauded as a bipartisan Senate posse, with Democrat Joe Lieberman at its lead (and [Senator Barbara] Boxer not far behind), bullied FASB into allowing companies to shunt their options costs into a footnote in their annual reports instead of subtracting them from earnings. Why'd they do it? For the economy's sake, everyone said." (Fortune.com)

Tech Industry Fights Running Battle Against Stock Option Changes
Excerpt: "For now, the lobby has succeeded in keeping stock option accounting out of the business reform bill steam-rolling through Congress. But the issue could rise again -- Amazon.com announced Tuesday that it will count options as an expense, adding more momentum -- and the industry is keeping up its offensive." (SiliconValley.com)

Investment Adviser Neuberger Berman to Expense Stock Options
Press release. Excerpt: "Neuberger Berman Inc. ... announced it will expense the cost of all stock options the Company grants beginning January 2003. In 2003, the Company will adopt the expense recognition provisions of recording the fair value of stock options under the guidance of SFAS No. 123, Accounting for Stock-Based Compensation." (Business Wire via Yahoo! News)

TIAA-CREF Asks 1,754 Publicly Traded Corporations to Expense Stock Options
Excerpt: "Voluntary expensing of options 'contributes to clear, straightforward and high-quality financial reporting, enhancing credibility that surely will be highly valued in the post-Enron market,' wrote John H. Biggs, TIAA-CREF chairman, president and chief executive, in his letter." (Dow Jones via Quicken.com)

Amazon to Expense Stock Options
Excerpt: "Amazon is one of the first tech companies to announce a switch, which it will make at the beginning of next year. The e-commerce giant is making the change in part because it will allow the company more flexibility in how it compensates workers, [chief executive Jeff] Bezos said in Amazon's earnings conference call." (ZDNet UK News)

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings - Post a Help Wanted Ad
Implementation Specialist for ExpertPlan, Inc.
in NJ
Account Management/ERISA Service Specialist for ExpertPlan, Inc.
in NJ
Retirement Plan Administration Specialist for Firm with Expanding Needs in Dayton OH
in OH
Pension Administrator for Ingham Group
in FL
Pension Plan Administrator for ERAS, LLC
in KY
Pension Administrator for Small Third-Party Pension Consulting/Actuarial Firm
in CT
Sr. Functional Analysts - Pension for Seurat Company
in FL
Defined Contribution Plan Administrator for Urbach Kahn & Werlin Advisors, Inc.
in NY
Compliance Specialist for Segal Company
in AZ

Newly Posted Webcasts (Post Yours!)
Insurance Coverage of Mental Health Benefits on July 23, 2002
presented by Kaiser Family Foundation

Newly Posted Conferences (Post Yours!)
Investment Management for Institutional Investorsin AZ on November 17, 2002
presented by Leonard N. Stern School of Business, New York University

Newly Posted Press Releases
SunGard Hosts Business Strategy Meeting for 401k Daily Recordkeepers (SunGard Corbel)

Subscribe to the Retirement Plans Edition, too (click)

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Editor and Publisher: David Rhett Baker, J.D.